Grad Student Spotlight: Caymen Novak

Caymen Novak
Ph.D.
Biomedical Engineering
2019
University of Michigan

Caymen Novak has been a committed member of SWE since her undergraduate studies at Oakland University, where she contributed as the Outreach Chair and President. Since beginning graduate school at the University of Michigan, she has gotten involved with their Graduate SWE group, again serving as the Outreach Chair from 2014-2018.

Caymen’s accolades also include the Marian Sarah Parker Prize for academic excellence, leadership qualities and outstanding contributions to the University and/or community and the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement. In addition to being a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, she has also received recognition through SWE, receiving scholarships in 2011 and 2015 and participating in the Rapid Fire Competition at WE18.

Caymen Novak

Caymen Novak, University of Michigan

Thesis Topic: The Effects of Mechanical Stimulation and ECM Stiffness on Ovarian Cancer Cell Phenotypes

Caymen investigates how different mechanical stimuli innate to the ovarian cancer micro-environment affect cancer progression and drug treatment response. The goal is to identify critical pathways that can be targeted in the future for better clinical outcomes.

After graduation, she would like to become a professor in biomedical engineering. Caymen has always loved teaching and is especially drawn to the opportunity it provides to connect with people.

Caymen enjoys running and artistic activities. She also teaches workout classes!

Fun Fact about Caymen: She can juggle but not well!

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Graduate Member Spotlight: Jennifer DiStefano

Jennifer DiStefano
Ph.D. Candidate
Materials Science and Engineering
Northwestern University
Expected Graduation: 2020

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Jennifer began her SWE career as an officer on the inaugural GradSWE board at Northwestern University three years ago. In her first position as Professional Development Chair, Jennifer introduced programming that has continued to this day, such as luncheons with women professors at Northwestern. Jennifer has been on the officer board since then; in fact, she now leads the GradSWE at Northwestern group. She is passionate about introducing STEM fields to girls at a young age, but also believes it is critical to nurture their interest in STEM while they look towards higher education and future careers. To that end, she is focusing on expanding the outreach and mentoring initiatives of GradSWE by making women graduate students visible and accessible to K-12 girls and undergraduate STEM students alike. Her SWE conference engagement includes presenting a workshop on elevator pitches at WE Local Milwaukee in 2017 and placing first at the Rapid Fire research presentation competition at WE18.

Jennifer is recognized as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow as well as a Northwestern International Institute of Nanotechnology Ryan Fellow.

Thesis Topic: 2D Material Nanocomposites

Since the discovery of graphene in 2004, 2D materials have drawn considerable interest for their potential in future electronics. These materials are ultra-thin – only a few atoms thick – and this reduced dimensionality leads to a host of properties not found in traditional electronic materials, including flexibility and transparency. Some of these atomically-thin materials are semiconductors, making them promising candidates for future electronic and optical applications, including solar cells and LED lighting. If these 2D semiconductors could be combined with other functional nanomaterials in nanocomposites, an even broader array of properties – and with that, future applications – would result.  Jennifer’s research focuses on exploring the formation and properties of new structures that combine 2D materials with other useful nanomaterials such as gold and silver.

After graduation, Jennifer is interested in a career in science policy or scientific consulting. Outside of work, she enjoys bird-watching (which Chicago is surprisingly good for!) in addition to reading and hiking.

Fun Fact: Jennifer is from a beautiful, but quite rural, part of Pennsylvania. So rural, in fact, that her high school had an annual “Drive Your Tractor to School Day,” in which several students inevitably participated.

Recap: SWE Annual Conference-WE18

Another annual conference is in the books for the Society of Women Engineers where more than 14,000 women engineers gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center last month.

Our graduate community participates in the conference in a variety of ways including hosting professional development sessions, competing in research presentations, exploring the career fair, and networking at the Graduate Member Meeting and Graduate Student Reception.

Graduate Poster & Rapid Fire Competition:

Twenty graduate students were selected from those that submitted abstracts for the Graduate Poster & Rapid Fire Competition. Ten students competed in each category (poster or rapid fire) where they were evaluated on their research and presentation skills. Congratulations to the following award recipients:

Graduate Poster Competition Results
(1st) Samantha Zellner
Corrosion Measurement of Silicon Carbide
University of North Texas

(2nd) Sarah Robb
Is faster FDA review time for cardiovascular devices correlated with adverse health outcomes, as evidenced by increased recalls?
Carnegie Mellon University

(3rd) Rachel Tenney
Production of Nitrogen- and Phosphorus-Rich Crystals from Municipal Wastewater for Sustainable Nutrient Recovery
University of Minnesota

Graduate Rapid Fire Competition Results
(1st) Jennifer DiStefano
Utilizing 2D Materials in Core-shell Nanocomposites
Northwestern University

(2nd) Caymen Novak
Compressive Stimulus Enhances Ovarian Cancer Proliferation, Invasion, and Mechanotransduction in a Novel 3D Compression Bioreactor
University of Michigan

(3rd) Kritika Iyer
Non-Invasive Diagnostics of Coronary Artery Disease Using Machine Learning and Computational Fluid Dynamics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Graduate Member Meeting:

Our member meeting is open to all graduates and serves to update our members on current GradSWE initiatives and what they can do to increase graduate student involvement in SWE at their university. The meeting slides contain pertinent links and tips for developing a GradSWE group.

Graduate Student Reception (Sponsored by Praxair and Autodesk):

With over 60 attendees, the Graduate Student Reception continues to grow and is an opportunity for networking and idea sharing among peers and the sponsors. We would like to once again thank Autodesk and Praxair for their support of the SWE graduate community! 20181019_172539

Join our team as Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect (GPC-E):

Do you want to get involved in GradSWE at the Society level? The application is now open for the Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect (GPC-Elect) position.

This position carries a two-year term (one year as coordinator-elect and one year as coordinator) filled by a SWE graduate student or recent Ph.D./M.S. graduate. The time commitment is usually 2-3 hours/week and is closer to 7-10 hours/week in the weeks before the annual conference. All meetings are through conference calls, except for the required annual conference attendance for both WE19 and WE20.

Deadline for applications is Monday, December 31, 2018 11:59 pm CDT (Midnight).
All applications will then be reviewed and applicants will be contacted in January.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at gradsweprogramming@gmail.com.

Graduate Member Spotlight: Kritika Iyer

Kritika Iyer
PhD
Biomedical Engineering
2022
University of Michigan

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Kritika Iyer has been a member of SWE since her undergrad at UCLA, where she held various officer positions, including Publicity Chair, Outreach Chair, and Internal Vice President. Her proudest achievement during that time was initiating the Women in Engineering Stayover Program (WESP) for potential incoming freshmen. The goal of WESP is to show incoming women engineers that they can have a safe, supportive, and fun community in UCLA engineering. The program has continued to grow and has led to an increased percentage of women enrolling in UCLA engineering! Since starting grad school at the University of Michigan she has continued to be an active member. She is a member of the Outreach Planning Committee, mainly participating in elementary school outreach, and she is also involved in mentoring undergraduate SWE students.

She has been recognized as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Rackham Merit Fellow, and a Michigan Institute of Computational Discovery and Engineering Fellow. If you were at WE18, maybe you saw her presentation as a SWE Rapid Fire Finalist, where she ended up winning 3rd place! Congratulations Kritika!

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Kritika at the WE18 Rapid Fire Competition

Thesis Topic: Non-invasive Diagnostics of Coronary Artery Disease using Computational Fluid Dynamics and Machine Learning

After graduation she plans to work in industry, using machine learning and computational modeling to improve healthcare.

Kritika enjoys dance/choreography and reading. She also enjoys crocheting winter gear to get through the frigid Michigan winters!

Fun Fact about Kritika: She is trilingual when she mumbles in her sleep!

Conferences: Why Bother?

I attended the SWE annual conference last week and wanted to share a few insights about the benefits of attending conferences.

Conferences are great ways to connect with others in your field. As a graduate student, you most likely have attended a conference and made a poster presentation or an oral presentation of your research. If you haven’t, I definitely recommend talking with your research advisor about submitting abstracts in an effort to be selected to present at a conference. This gives you an opportunity to not only build your CV but to practice concisely communicating your research to others, to network with others in your field which may open up future research collaboration opportunities or employment, and to learn current, in-progress research that may be relevant to your research.

SWE offers two types of conferences: the annual international “WE” conference held each year in early fall (over 14,000 attendees this year!)  and the “WE Local” conferences held throughout the year around the United States, India and Europe. One of the main advantages of these conferences is the variety of events and sessions offered.  Since SWE includes all engineering and science disciplines, the conferences are technically neutral, or should I say “all-inclusive”. Most of the sessions apply to all attendees and center around career success, professional development and work-life balance. There are presentations grouped under eleven different tracks (below) as well as a career fair with over 350 exhibitors (including universities and organizations)

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Other elements of Conference include:

*keynote speakers*hospitality suites*K-12 outreach*local tours*poster competition*tech talks*

Pictures from WE18 Conference can be seen here.

As a member of leadership, conference was a great opportunity to meet in-person other members of leadership with whom I collaborate. I also connected with speakers after their talk, providing a way to get advice or more information in the future on a topic that is of interest and relevant to me.

You have a near-term opportunity to participate in an upcoming WE Local Conference and earning a $250 stipend if you make it as a finalist in the WE Local Collegiate Competition. Submit your abstract before the deadline of Friday, November 2, 2018

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Check out the Hospitality Suites at WE18!

One of the most exciting events at the annual SWE conferences is the Hospitality Suites. This event consists of a series of rooms in the conference center featuring numerous companies. Each suite will give you insight into the company culture as several employees will be available for casual networking.

If you are looking for a job or internship, be sure to check out the companies you’d like to target for applications – networking opportunities can lead to interviews, and will certainly give you more information about what the company values and how the company operates.

Even if you’re not currently looking for a position, visiting the hospitality suites can still help you build your network and stretch your networking skills!

Some tips to keep in mind while milling through the hospitality suites:

  1. Each suite will typically provide some appetizers and potentially alcoholic beverages. If you decide to drink any alcohol offered, be responsible. Remember that you have had a long and exhausting day at conference so you may start to feel tipsy sooner than usual!
  2. Not sure which companies to look at? Attend the hospitality suites with friends! Get a broad overview of different company cultures, regardless of specific field.
  3. Talk to a variety of people at a number of different suites – you can get new ideas about jobs that you might be interested in!
  4. Bring business cards! These are an amazing networking tool – by exchanging business cards, you can continue your networking connections after conference.

 

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If you are attending WE18 in Minneapolis, the hospitality suites will be Thursday, October 18th, from 8:00-10:00PM. Look for the Hospitality Suites in the conference app or online planner for a list of hosting companies!

WE18 is almost here!

It is officially October which means that WE18 is right around the corner! Now is the time to start preparing for the conference so that you can get the most from the experience.

UPLOAD YOUR RESUME: On the job market? Upload your resume ahead of time to make sure companies know you are available.

CHECK OUT THE WE18 EXHIBITORS: There will be more than 300 exhibitors at the WE18 career fair! Take some time to pick out the specific exhibitors you are interested in meeting.

Career Fair Hours

Thursday, Oct 18:
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Professional and Collegiate members only)
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (all registrants, including Career Fair only)

Friday, October 19:
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. professionals only (members and non-members)
10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Professional and Collegiate members only)
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (all registrants, including Career Fair only)

USE THE MOBILE APP: WE18 is a HUGE conference with more sessions than you could possibly attend. Make the most of your time by using the mobile app to build your schedule and stay organized!

TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMERS: Check out the podcast by FY19 SWE President Penny Wirsing and FY17 SWE President Jessica Rannow about tips and advice for First-Timers at WE18.

Finally, don’t forget to come to our GradSWE specific sessions:

Thursday, October 18th

  • 12:45-1:45 PM | Big Step for Me, Giant Leap for SWE-Kind: Staying Involved in SWE After College
  • 2:00-3:00 PM | Life after Grad School: Transitioning from Graduate Student to Professional
  • 4:30-5:30 PM | Preparing Powerful Application Essays

Friday, October 19th

  • 9:30 AM-6PM | Collegiate Poster Competition
  • 10:15-11:45 AM | Rapid Fire 1: Graduate Students
  • 4:30-5:30 PM | A Tale of Two PhDs and The Value of Diversity (may be rescheduled)
  • 3:00-5:00 PM | Graduate Member Meeting
  • 5:00-6:30 PM | Graduate Student Reception (Sponsors: Autodesk and Praxair)

Saturday, October 20th

  • 12:45-1:45 PM | Embracing Failures in Academia to Break Personal Boundaries
  • 1:30-1:50 PM | Utilizing Online Platforms for Self-Promotion: Personal Websites and Social Media

We highly encourage participation in these sessions led by your fellow peers and academics. It can be an impactful learning experience, and high attendance numbers demonstrate that the graduate population in SWE continues to grow!

If you cannot attend WE18, watch for graduate programming at 2019 WE Locals or at WE19.

Any questions about programming at WE18 can be emailed to gradsweprogramming@gmail.com